At that hudud forum on the 12th of February, 2017 Dr Maza the Mufti of Perlis gave out his latest book. You can see the cover and the Table of Contents below. Dr maza says that this is his first work in the English Language.
The title is "The Importance Of Understanding The Text And The Context Of Hadith".
I have read the book and I would like to review / analyse / comment the contents of the book here and now.
To save time (for you, dear readers) I will try to be concise.
When I read books that have to do with religion, I always remind myself that what we are reading is always the school of thought or the sectarian understanding of religion. Because inevitably the religion has been divided into sects.
When authors like Dr Maza write such books, yes it does represent the writer's own views but they actually project some school of thought or some sectarian influence on the thinking.
Therefore my comments are directed at the schools of thought behind these views because (I can assure you) the religion is always packaged into 'schools of thought'.
Dr Maza's book above talks about the 'sabab wurud al hadith'. Sabab in arabic is the same as 'sebab' in Malay. Sabab = sebab = reason or cause.
Dr Maza explains 'wurud' as meaning 'background'.
Hadith is said to be records of the sayings and actions of the prophet.
Putting it together it simply means "the reasons for the background to a hadith'. More briefly, why a particular hadith came to be.
(Note : For the benefit of non Muslims, the religious scholars believe that the religion is made up of :
i. the Quran
ii. hadith and sunnah (sayings and actions of the Prophet)
iii. ijma (consensus of the religious experts)
iv. qiyas (analogical arguments of the religious scholars)
ii. to iv. above are obviously "extra Quranic" - meaning they are outside the Quran.)
In his Preface Dr Maza points out that the hadith faces challenges because 'incorrect interpretations of authentic narrations ...seems to not make sense to our present realities'.
If this means that hadith should be reinterpreted differently at different times then what happens to sabab wurud al hadith? Is it still a relevant concept ?
It also implies that there cannot be just one definitive interpretation of a hadith. If there is no definitive interpretation of a hadith, then there is no interpretation. Why? because any interpretation cannot be definite. So is sabab wurud al hadith still a relevant concept?
On pg 4 Dr Maza mentions exceptions like hadith about aqeedah, ibadah and akhlaq whose contents are "timeless and placeless" but there are other hadith whose meaning is connected to their sabab wurud.
From pg 5 - 8 Dr Maza talks about the hadith where some Jews came and mocked the Prophet with a sarcastic "greeting".
(My comments : I think this point by Dr Maza is related to the controversy in Malaysia where someone said it is wrong to say Assalamu Alaikum to non Muslims. Also some Muslims took "insult" when non Muslims said Assalamu Alaikum to them).
The hadith quoted by Dr Maza says some Jews came to the Prophet and mocked him with 'Assaamu alaikum' which means 'death or destruction be upon you'.
To which the Prophet replied 'Wa alaikum' which means 'and upon you too'.
(My comments : Greeting in the Quran is 'haiyyan' (haiyy). If indeed the Jews came and said 'Death be upon you' to the prophet, that was certainly not a greeting.
The Prophet does suggest something else in the Quran :
I would assume that the Prophet would have said the following to the mocking Jews :
"And when they hear ill speech, they turn away from it and say, "For us are our deeds, and for you are your deeds. Peace be upon you (SALAMUN ALAIKUM); we seek not the ignorant (Jahil)."
This is what the Prophet taught us in the Quran. When the Jews or any other jahil person speak ill to us, mock us etc, just say to them "SALAMUN ALAIKUM".
This is the S.O.P or Standard Operating Procedure in the Quran. Whenever we meet anyone - Jew, Muslim, Christian, jahil, tak jahil we are told to say SALAMUN ALAIKUM or "Peace be upon you".
This is what the Prophet taught us in the Quran.
The scholars need to explain why the Prophet would have taught us something in the Quran that is different from what the scholars say is recorded in the extra Quranic hadith ? For example, about this matter of the Jews, is there a "sabab wurud" why the hadith is different from the Quran?)
On pg 9 Dr Maza speaks about the definition of Sabab al-Wurud.
As I have long suspected and long expected, the religious scholars and experts cannot provide definite answers.
Dr Maza refers the scholars :
i. "Bulqini focussed sabab al-wurud on hadith qauliyyah (the sayings of the prophet) . . .So Bulqini's definition cannot be a comprehensive one"
ii. Al Sayuti "never mentioned any particular definition of the discipline".
iii. Ibn Hamza . . .did not make any specific definition
The sabab wurud is certainly not in the Quran.
There is no sabab wurud mentioned in the extra Quranic hadith either.
Then the scholars in this field (like Bulqini, Ibn Hamza and Al Sayuti) have said "not comprehensive, no particular or specific definition" of sabab wurud !
If that is the case, then how are we going to talk about it with any certainty ?
I think this is a valid question.
On pg 11 Dr Maza says that "What causes the existence of a hadith is the day on which it occurred."
I think you can say this for just about anything that happens under the sun.
But I was also looking for a mention of a complete set of sabab wurud. Is there such a thing?
Can we go to some library or university somewhere in the Islamic world or anywhere else and read a full and complete set of books which provide a full and complete sabab wurud that explains the "caused the existence of a hadith the day on which it occurred" for each and every hadith?
Are there any such collections? Or is it a new area of study that has to be "compiled" as we go along so that it "makes sense to our present realities" ?
Before that there is also the question if we have the complete collection of ALL the prophet's hadith ?
There are collections by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud etc. Not all the hadith are exactly the same or even similar among them. Some have collected more hadith while others have collected less.
I have already raised the question of the missing Friday sermons of the Prophet. The prophet's mission is believed to have lasted 23 years. The prophet is said to have been the imam or prayer leader throughout the 23 years, with few exceptions.
But other than a part of two Friday sermons (khutbah Jumaat) that are mentioned in the hadith, the remaining 23 x 52 = 1196 Friday sermons (approximately) of the Prophet are missing.
Is there a sabab wurud to explain how come those 1,196 (approximately) Friday sermons of the Prophet are missing from the hadith collections? This can be an area for further research.
That is all for now. Will follow up if I have time.